8th April 2007



I really don’t need to say anything. The cover says plenty. Go on, I know you just want to look at it for a bit. I’ll be right here when you’re done.

I Love This World posted about the cover to Mastermind, and made my day. Has any game ever had better packaging? I think not. Hanford said it all, when he looked over my shoulder as I was preparing that photo to post — “Ooh, Mastermind! That was a very adult game.” Yes, yes it was. It was a game that demanded the most refined demeanor your seven-year-old self could muster (which mostly involved one raised eyebrow and a lot of “hmmm… interesting”s and soft, knowing chuckles under one’s breath). I loved this game, but even to this day, I cannot tell if it was really the game I loved, or if it was the cover. Mastermind was mental dress-up in a box.

I mean, look at it! Clearly, those two are plotting world domination, and are taking a break from their evil schemes to play a little mind game with you. They will win. It is a foregone conclusion. But you’re happy to be their little plaything, because they are so urbane and suave, and maybe if you play along with them they’ll be nice to you after they take over the world, and MY GOD THEIR TABLE IS SO SHINY.

And that woman — is she just along for the ride? Is she playing him, and biding her time until she can cast him aside? Or has he warped her to his purposes? Hm, maybe you should try to save her. But you can hear her laughs mocking you even now, at the thought that she might need saving. Yes, we will play this game as a distraction, while you suss out what’s really going on here.

If you’d like the mystery broken (and by broken, I mean shattered into a thousand little pieces, never to be reconstructed), move along past the jump, and learn the story of the making of the Mastermind cover, and see a recreation of the photo with this same couple, 30 years on. (Hint: They didn’t succeed in taking over the world.)

Mastermind, 30 years later
Mastermind, 30 years later

And here they are. Meet Bill Woodward and Cecilia Masters (nee Fung).

The Mastermind box cover photo shoot took place in Leicester in 1972. Bill Woodward owned a chain of local hair salons, and was only chosen to sit for this photo when the original model they had booked didn’t show up. Cecilia Fung was a computer science student (rock on!) at the nearby University of Leicester, and was spotted on the street and approached for the Mastermind cover shoot.

Another concept for this photo included a cat to sit on Woodward’s lap, but the cat peed on him. Yes, when you look at this distinguished man sitting at the table, you can now know that his lap is secretly spoiled with cat pee.

The dress they had for Fung was way too big for her — they actually had to have another woman behind her, reaching up to cinch her dress for the photo (been there!) so that it wouldn’t just look like an ill-fitting sack.

This new photo on the right was taken when the two were reunited by the company that owns Mastermind, Invicta. Presumably, this photo shoot went a little more smoothly. But maybe they threw in a little cat piss, for old times’ sake.

Woodward has retired from the salon business. Fung, now named Cecilia Masters, developed a career in information systems for the banking world, and has her own banking software company. Hmmm… it’s entirely possible her cunning plans are still underway…

There are currently 25 responses to “Mastermind”

  1. 1 On April 8th, 2007, Jon said:

    Glad you liked my Mastermind post. The added history didn’t
    alter the mystique at all. I still find them both chilling.

    Anyone who can muster such an obvious look of disdain while
    possessing a lap full of cat urine obviously has ice water running
    through his veins and dead people in the crawlspace under his house.

  2. 2 On April 8th, 2007, Humuhumu said:

    Good point. But, dead people in the crawlspace under his house? I believe you mean dead people in the crawlspace under his evil lair.

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’m seriously going to try to track down a copy — I don’t know how easy it will be to find one that still has all the pegs.

  3. 3 On April 9th, 2007, Jon said:

    I stand corrected. Maybe dead people in the top soil above his subterranean lair?

    I’ll keep an eye out for you. They turn up at the Community Thrift store over on Valencia Street (in San Francisco) every so often.

  4. 4 On April 11th, 2007, alohatiki said:

    I always loved the cover (and the game) but always wondered why she was wearing an ill fitting pillowcase. We have the travel version (picked up at Goodwill) which we keep meaning to bring on plane trips then always forget.

  5. 5 On April 18th, 2007, Steve Hobley said:

    That’s awesome (as they say over here).

    I’m just about to undertake a photoshoot based on this very box cover.
    I live in the USA now, but I was born and raised in Leicester…

    Must be a good omen.


  6. 6 On April 20th, 2007, Humuhumu said:

    Nice! Yes, we’ve been daydreaming & plotting of a photoshoot of our own…

  7. 7 On April 21st, 2007, selector lopaka said:

    No lie, April 8 eve, I was in Georgetown (a Seattle neighborhood) on my way to a bar, and saw a faded Mastermind Deluxe edition (which I had never seen before) in the window of a record store. I looked at for a minute or two, and was reminded of when I used to play Mastermind a bunch with a boyhood friend back in the late 1970s, and remember feeling the James Bond/spy vibe from it. Then I saw this post which was a bit bizarre, and tonight after dinner with a couple of friends the talk of playing a game popped up, and what should appear on the table, Mastermind. I proceeded to play for the first time in more than a couple of decades, and actually figured out the first one in six tries, failed completely on the second round, while my partner blew my mind with five tries the first round, and frickin’ four tries the second time. Beautiful randomness.

  8. 8 On April 21st, 2007, selector lopaka said:

    P.S. The actual game we played with was an original version that came from the game stash of my partner’s family from when she was a kid in Wisconsin.

  9. 9 On May 3rd, 2007, But We’re Even Bigger in Vienna » Junkyard Clubhouse said:

    [...] feel like we could take on all foes, including those who are well-dressed and gaze vaguely threateningly from behind a shiny table. A bunch of the other blogs who got mentioned are also favorites of ours, making us feel [...]

  10. 10 On October 23rd, 2007, Use of Weapons » Blog-arkiv » Whatever happened to… said:

    [...] er der heldigvis nogen, der har sat sig for at finde ud af. Læs her. Og her er en meget rammende beskrivelse af forsidebilledets umiddelbare indvirkning på et yngre [...]

  11. 11 On October 25th, 2007, Fresh, Hot Wastes of Time » Blog Archive » Whatever happened to… said:

    [...] Now you know. [...]

  12. 12 On October 25th, 2007, s.davis said:

    I love this box. I don’t own the game anymore, but i have the box propped up against the wall in my room.

  13. 13 On October 25th, 2007, Kate said:

    I’ve never heard of this game, should I check it out?

  14. 14 On October 26th, 2007, Emma said:

    I love this game. I have an original version and I am yet to meet someone who can beat my scores of getting it in four tries nearly every time. Shame it never really caught on… The sinister sophistication of the cover definitely added to its appeal – if I’d known he was covered in cat pee I would have been even more impressed.

  15. 15 On October 29th, 2007, Mastermind said:

    [...] game was good, but the box art was classic: Two bloggers provide a history and an overdue appreciation of the diabolical couple that conquered our world with a highly [...]

  16. 16 On October 29th, 2007, tinylondon said:

    How cool is that. The fella really hasn’t changed much at all.

  17. 17 On November 1st, 2007, We’re Good Enough, We’re Smart Enough, and Gosh Darn It, We’re the November Scientiae! said:

    [...] at Junkyard Clubhouse writes about Mastermind, and the female computer scientist who appears on the cover of the classic edition of the game. And [...]

  18. 18 On November 7th, 2007, Sanity… is for the Weak :: Mastermind :: November :: 2007 said:

    [...] But recently, I came across this article which gave the story behind that game cover. [...]

  19. 19 On November 27th, 2007, no sense of place :: links for 2007-10-23 said:

    [...] Mastermind » Junkyard Clubhouse The Mastermind couple 30 years later (tags: mastermind games) Filed in Del.icio.us on October 23rd, 2007. [...]

  20. 20 On August 12th, 2008, Fredrik Farhadian said:

    Now that´s a lovely picture. One of the most enduring images of my childhood.
    The wealthy business man who oozes self-confidence sitting down, and behind him,
    a pretty Asian girl who gives the picture an appealing international flair.

  21. 21 On June 5th, 2009, Nick said:

    He has clearly made an effort to reproduce the look of the original photo in impressive detail, but I don’t feel she has entered into the spirit of things in quite the same way. Couldn’t she (or Invicta) have made a similar dress, straightened her hair, removed her make up and shown us a little more hip movement? And where is the red chair? I feel cheated!

  22. 22 On April 21st, 2010, David Bicho said:

    Cool! But who was he photographer!?

  23. 23 On April 21st, 2010, Mastermind – minns ni? « David Bicho said:

    [...] Här är orginalposten av Humuhumu från Junkyard Clubhouse [...]

  24. 24 On August 25th, 2011, weapons of massdistraction › Everything Was Inevitable said:

    [...] gaze at the cover of this amazing looking game from the 70s: “Clearly, those two are plotting world domination, and are taking a break from their evil [...]

  25. 25 On July 3rd, 2012, simon said:

    i was just thinking about this the other day. my daughter picked up the game at my mother in laws house and i remembered a story that my dad told me: that this was the guy who cut (what was left) of his hair in Oadby Leicester – i think invicta plastics was based there. i suddenly wondered if it was true or an embellishment – but it clearly was true. fancy that! simon